Every morning (except for Thursdays and Saturdays), I drag my tired self out of bed and to the Metra station to catch a train to you. Despite spending the train ride going back and forth between zoning out and wishing I was still in bed, then moment I step out of Ogilvie station and into your bustling streets, a happiness immediately washes over me.
Home at last.
Somehow, the masses of people in suits walking at a speed that would almost be described as jogging on a bridge over your disgustingly polluted river feels more like home than my actual home.
But maybe that makes sense. My bedroom here doesn’t know who I am. My bookshelf contains stuffed animals, My Chemical Romance albums, and a college degree. There are still unpacked containers in the corner from when I moved here at the end of April. There’s only one corner that feels like me, the one with my music equipment and my closet (filled with clothes that are normal as far as you are concerned, Chicago, but considered weird and hipster here).
Sometimes I think I may be in love with idea of not living at home with my parents rather than being in love with you. After all, I hate it here. Hate constantly being yelled at to clean my room (my room is so big and empty and lonely without clutter), hate being asked a million questions about everything (what does it matter that I treated myself to lunch out instead of bringing it today), hate this stupid town and the stupid people in it. Hate my mother’s mood swings, the strained conversations with my father,
Or maybe I’m generally in love with the idea of living in a city. A place where people will compliment my nose hoop instead of jeering at it, where there are coffee shops other than Starbucks, where I don’t have to drive anywhere. A place where I can randomly decide to go out to a bar with friends at 11pm and stumble home at 2AM (but not before stopping for some greasy snack at one of the many 24 hour diners). A place filled with art and artists.
But no, it’s you, Chicago. I’m in love with the skyline looks from museum campus at night, the way the locals give each other knowing eye rolls when stuck in masses of tourists, the way that sometimes, on clear nights, the stars will come out over the lake, and you can sit on the beach with a bottle of wine and a friend thinking about nothing but the vastness of the water and sky in front of you. I’m in love with the way I can randomly decide I need another hole in my ear and hop on a bus to my favorite tattoo and piercing studio, where the piercer knows me personally and always gives me an awesome discount. I’m in love with Hopleaf, Holiday Club, and Cunneen’s. I’m in love with Adler After Dark, making fun of the way people in Wicker Park dress, and how the antennae on the top of the Sears tower (NOT Willis) are lit up red and green around Christmas time. I love the people, the way they would coo at my cat sitting in my apartment’s open window as they walked past, the way that after it snows they put out lawn chairs to save the parking spots they spent 20 minutes digging their cars out of, the way most of them are so friendly and lovely.
When I come to you, even though I spend most of my day in a call center dealing with difficult customers, I feel something that’s always missing when I’m in the suburbs. My day is backwards- I come home in the morning, and leave home when I catch the train back to the suburbs after work.
Come March, this hole I’ve been feeling will go away permanently. Soon, I will be able to see my friends on the weekends without having to worry about having to find a couch to crash on. Soon, I will be able to order the best pizza in the world anytime I want (I have been to both New york and Italy and I still stand by this statement). Soon, I will have deep conversations on back porches and groan about the red line being delayed and spend too much money on Argo’s specialtea drinks and see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a whim. Soon, I will be home.